Thursday, November 15, 2007

Interview with Michelle Pillow

by Deanna Ashford

Today I’m interviewing Michelle M. Pillow. She is an amazingly prolific author and a sweet and charming person. I had the privilege to meet her and get to know her at the Romance Writers of America Conference in Dallas last July. Not only does she write for Virgin's US imprint, Cheek, she writes for a multitude of other US imprints as well.

When asked to describe herself she said: –

I have always had an active imagination. Ever since I can remember, I have had a strange fascination with anything supernatural—ghosts, magical powers, and oh…vampires. What could be more alluring than being immortal, all-powerful, and eternally beautiful? (Sorry, vampire purists, in this fantasy the Hollywood version rules).

After discovering historical romance novels in high school (thanks mom), it was only natural that the supernatural and love/romance elements should someday meet in my wonderland of a brain. I’m glad they did for their children have been pouring onto the computer screen ever since. Whoever said it was bad to be a daydreamer with your head in the clouds…futuristic planets and underground, subculture worlds? I don’t know about you, but I would much rather play there than in reality.

Tell us about your latest book Michelle and what made you write it.

MP: My newest release is Along for the Ride, Virgin Books. It’s the second in the Matthews Sisters series. The Matthews Sisters series is about the sisterly bond, which I think any woman with a sister can relate to. It’s the idea that no one can mess with my sisters, but me. It’s about being so close no words need to be said. It’s about being able to be so frustrated with and yet love someone at the same time. And occasionally seeing what the other person refuses to see. Family is a part of who these heroines are and though each sister is inherently different than the others, they are connected with a bond that can never be severed

What first made you interested in writing in the erotic genre/ or how did you get started writing erotic romance?

MP: I started writing straight historicals, which were very sweet in nature compared to what I do now. As my writing expanded and involved into other genres and as the market trend changed, it was only natural for me to branch out into erotic romance as well as paranormals, contemporaries, futuristics, fantasy, ect..

Which one of the books you have written is your favourite?

MP: I like them all for different reasons. Maiden and the Monster holds a special place because it was one of the first books I wrote pre-publication and it also won my first RT award. But, really, it’s like asking me to pick a favourite child. I can’t do it. *grin*

Which book do you think is the hottest or are they one and the same?

MP: My hottest? Taming Him from Ellora’s Cave. My books for Virgin are all Erotic Romances. I haven’t done a straight erotica novel. I think that’s because I love a happily-ever-after ending and writing romance is just natural for me. Not, that Erotica can’t have a HEA, just that I tend to have a romantic focus when I write.

If you were to write a book entirely for yourself, would it differ at all from your published writing?

MP: Wow, great question. I really like darker books, with huge world building and a large cast of characters. If I didn’t have to worry about market and readership and publishing, basically all the business stuff of being an author, I think more of the larger worlds would find their way into my work. I’d also write in many POVs, because I like seeing into everyone’s head.

If you had the chance to meet one of the heroes from your books which one would it be?

MP: One of the supernaturals, just to know they exist. But I’d want some safety protocols with those dark fantasy vampires, lol. Some of mine get pretty nasty with the humans.

You sometimes write with Mandy Roth, what first made you start doing that and do you find it easier or more difficult than writing alone?

MP: I’m very lucky to have a writing partner in Mandy ( She really is like a sister to me. We can fight, laugh at each other and ourselves, hang up the other and know that the next day that friendship and bond will still be there. Writing with a partner isn’t always easy, but Mandy and I have a natural groove. We can play off each other’s strengths and know who would be better at what kind of scene. We open each other up for jokes, like in the Pleasure Cruise series at Ellora’s Cave. Mandy’s very technical minded. I tend to be more into the historical and social anthropology aspect. It’s a great balance for us.

Do you find writing easy or do you have to discipline yourself?

MP: It depends. I’m a hard worker by nature so it’s in me to constantly strive for more and better. Like any writer, I go through cycles of block. When that happens, I tend to focus on other aspects of the writing career, like promotions.

Is there anything, with an erotic theme, that you wouldn’t write about?

MP: Several things. But, I should note, just because I don’t write it, doesn’t mean others shouldn’t. Just like I’m not the person to write inspirational or straight suspense, neither am I the person for M/M or F/F. That’s what’s great about having so many authors out there to chose from—wondrous variety.

Do you have a favourite writer in any genre?

MP: I love Jane Austin. She’s the grandmother of romance. John Steinbeck is great. I love his descriptions. He really brings the era he writes about to life. I tend to gravitate toward classics for pleasure reading. As for romance writers, I love Mandy Roth (of course), Jaycee Clark does great suspense, Gia Dawn is one I’m keeping an eye on. Robyn Carr is a sweetheart of a person and a great author. Same with Kelley St. John. Jaci Burton’s Demon Island series are wonderful. Oh, did you say to pick just one? LOL I’ll stop there.

Are there any writers. TV programmes or movies that have sparked your interest enough to consider writing a book with a similar theme?

MP: Yes *ducking head* The movie Labyrinth inspired me to write the Realm Immortal series because I didn’t like the fact that Sara didn’t stay with Jareth at the end to be his goblin queen.

Do you enjoy the marketing yourself, or do you just consider it an uncomfortable necessity?

MP: It’s a necessity that I’ve taught myself not to mind doing. Yes, at times it’s tedious, but I treat my writing career as a business. These days you have to. And marketing is part of that business.

Sometimes, marketing is fun though. Like the podcast/live radio show Mandy and I do. We’re on the air every Wed and listeners can call in to talk to us. We started them as something to just play around and have fun with, but they’ve really taken off.

Is there anything you’d like to achieve that you haven’t done yet – be as free as you’d like here!

MP: I’m always on the lookout for the next project and opportunity. I’d love to get back into my photography and maybe someday have a gallery show or publish a book in that field. But there are no immediate plans for that. All I can say is I’m open to what the future holds.

Thanks so much for that Michelle

Thanks for having me!

Michelle’s Links

Website –

Blog –

Newsletter –

Free Story –

Radio Show -

Michelle has kindly offered to donate a signed copy of Along For the Ride for the best comments on LB today.


blackroze37 said...

i loved 'along for the ride" !! ]

Dayle A. Dermatis said...

Hi Mandy! ::waves:: It was great meeting you at RWA! :-)

Portia Da Costa said...

Hi Michelle! Lovely to see you here... I'm reading 'Along for the Ride' at the moment and really, really enjoying it! :)

Olivia Knight said...

I really like darker books, with huge world building and a large cast of characters.
Ooh ooh ooh (no, that's not an owl, it's me getting excited) - don't hold back! World-building is one my favourite things about writing and certainly something I value hugely in my reading. It's funny that the fantasy genre will allow its authors infinite space to build their worlds - 200 000 words? No problem! Seven books of 150 000 words each? Bring it on! - but erotica's still sticking to the "80 000 words = commercial viability" notion. One might think it's a hangover from its romance origins (romantic novels tend to be slim, don't they?) but the great big epic sagas suggest that's not necessary either.
That said, Black Lace is branching away from wordcount strictures wonderfully - with the new series of novellas (Lust Bites the book and the two still in the pipeline, Magic and Desire and Enchanted) and even more so with the novel series that have started with the Silver Werewolves. Bring on more series, I say. Give us new worlds!

Olivia Knight said...

P.S. I think my sudden opposition to restrictive wordcounts is because I am, once again, trying to get rid of three thousand words - one at a time. But really, Michelle, it would be wonderful if you wrote a series and gave us the full-orchestra-with-organ interior world.
Organ - heh heh - heh heh - she said organ...
Oh, bugger. Channelling the spirits of Beavis and Butthead again.

Deanna Ashford said...

I was lucky enough to be given a pre-advance copy by Michelle at the RWA.

Thanks Michelle, I loved it.

Janine Ashbless said...

Hi Michelle - love the world-building comment too.

I tried to submit a novel at over 100,000 words to VBL once. Didn't work! I'm learning to write more tightly.

Re:"the sisterly bond, which I think any woman with a sister can relate to. It’s the idea that no one can mess with my sisters, but me. It’s about being so close no words need to be said." Well, it's certainly true that me and my sister aren't speaking any more. Don't think it's to do with being Close, though. Ho hum

Olivia Knight said...

My heroines usually appear to be devoid of family, orphaned and alone in the world - but I reckon they probably do have families, they just forget to switch their mobiles on and return the calls.
Occasionally one parent will appear as Enemy (the father in Innana's Temple) or Advisor (the mother in The Black Knight). I've managed to include a mother and a father in my current work-in-progress - but to add siblings as well would be asking too much! Familes always just seem like a whole host of unnecessary secondary characters that have to be there for authenticity but don't add much to the plot. In fiction, that is!

Janine Ashbless said...

I have so many fathers as the Enemy in my short fiction. Weird, because I actually get on really well with my Dad.

My female protagonists have family (usually hostile). My male ones almost always don't. Nothing destroys a hero's air of masculine mystique like having a mother...

Olivia Knight said...

I'm racking my brains and I don't think I've ever written sisters, in any genre... Not even blonde Swedish twins who like to go roller-blading in hot pants ;-)
Reading The Matthew Sisters should prove fascinating!

Jeremy Edwards said...

Hi, Michelle! Congrats on all your continuing success. I see your books in bookstores everywhere.

I find that siblings come in handy in erotica for introducing the protagonists ("She was a friend of my sister's") and then conveniently vanishing ("My sister had to make an early night of it, as she was flying to Antarctica in the morning.")

Anonymous said...

The protagonists of my first three books, Peep Show, Mad About the Boy and Equal Opportunities are sisters. Imogen, Sophie and Mary actually do have the same last name 'Taylor' which gets a mention once in each book.

Imogen and her boyfriend Christian were going to be at Sophie's birthday dinner party which opens Mad About the Boy. I sort of wish I'd actually done that now.

Jeremy Edwards said...

Did Imogen and Christian refuse to appear? Characters can be such grumps about anything that's not spelled out in their contracts.

Anne Tourney said...

I had the pleasure of meeting Michelle at the RWA conference, and one of the things that impressed me most about her was the breadth of her imagination. Knowing her through the Cheek line, I'd never realized that she had such a range of stories, interests, fantasies and ideas! Not to mention that she's smart as heck (you have to be, to do that kind of research and build those complicated worlds), and hilariously funny.

I look forward to seeing all the new directions that your career takes, Michelle; you're a gifted and innovative author.

Thanks for the interview, Deanna!

Olivia Knight said...

Jeremy, you let yours get away by plane? I usually just kill mine.
"I flinched, embarrassed that he was unbuttoning my blouse with my sister still in the room, then I realised she'd been lying motionless for several minutes and the rattling gasps had stopped.
'Alright, big boy,' I murmured, turning back to him..."

(Hmm. I wonder if anyone's ever said "big boy" with a straight face?)

Maybe Along for the ride will teach me how to manage siblings in an erotic context... apart from the ABSOLUTE SILENCE required when your brother is in the next room...

ChristyJan said...

Hi Michelle,
I'm looking forward to reading ALONG FOR THE RIDE. Enjoyed the interview.

Alison Tyler said...

Fun interview! Thanks for stopping by, Michelle and congrats on the new releases.

I think I only wrote about sisters once, in "Dial L for Loveless," my noir thriller. I have hot-blooded twins called The Geneva sisters.

Being an only child, that sisterly bond (or lack thereof) isn't a reality for me at all.


Madeline Moore said...

Welcome, Michelle. Thank you for this glimpse into the life of a (primarily) romance writer. And thanks for the interview, Deanna. Well done!

Interesting comments about world building/family building. Olivia, I'm the opposite of you - I like to make a family but, in truth, I am totally daunted by the 'building of worlds.' It's overwhelming, and likely the reason I prefer writing contemporary erotica. But I AM forever including family/friends that are usually deleted because they take up space.

It seems to me that almost everyone has some family and a few friends. So a character who lacks both is suspicious...don't they say, when you're considering a man as a potential boyfriend - Does he have friends? How does he treat his mother?

I agree with Olivia, tho - a male character who dotes on his mom would be sort of icky...

I freely admit that it's what is going on inside my characters that really interests me. True in life as well. I can be very oblivious, given than I'm a writer, to visual clues, my biggest being outrage at a young man's condition during an interview (He's obviously on drugs! Why his eyes are rolling in his head!) Only to discover later that the young man was blind. Argh.

Madelynne Ellis said...

You know as I get older I can relate more to that sisterly bond thing. I think it helps that I don't have to live with them any more.

As for siblings in books. Yep, I like siblings, sometimes they're really useful. Parents don't half get in the way though. Talk about style cramping.

Um, yes the 80K word limit is somewhat restrictive, but... well, Phantasmagoria is over 300 pages and nobody seemed to bat an eyelid. Weird. I was expecting demands for word culls.

Finally, congrats on your "trilogy" Michelle, and for sharing a bit of yourself with us. Here's hoping you let your imagination go on the world building etc front one day. I like dark with huge casts.

Portia Da Costa said...

Come to think of it, I've written two books about pairs of sisters. Both times with a degree of competition between the siblings... but affection too, when it comes down to the wire.

I don't find 75K restrictive, but then I can't plot, so a short book works best for me. LOL

I like light and shade, with small to medium sized casts of characters. :)

Kate Pearce said...

I never write about sisters in my books-I have 5 in real life and that's quite enough for me thankyouverymuch!!

It's amazing, actually how many orphans there are in romance fiction, lots of missing mothers. I went through a phase when all the villains in my books were blondes-until someone pointed it out to me-then I remembered my mother was blonde...

Thanks for visiting Michelle! It was nice to get to meet you at RWA. I'm totally in awe of your creativity and productivity.

I don't write long books-I usually have to add at the end!

Laura J. said...

If you ever get a chance to sit in on a online chat with Michelle and Mandy, DO IT!!! They will definately make it a fun chat!

When does Recipe For Disaster come out?

Ally said...

Sorry I didn't get the chance to pop by yesterday. I recall enjoying one of your chats at the Romance Galleria. Nice to see things are still moving smoothly. I've had you on my to read list for sometime, I really need to get in gear and start reading again. My bad, I have been blogging too much and reading online. I wish you success.

Deanna Ashford said...

Thanks so much Michelle for the interview.

Anonymous said...

Hi Michelle! What a great interview! Hope you and yours have a nice Thanksgiving!

tetewa said...

Enjoyed the interview today and Along for the Ride sounds good!

Michelle M Pillow said...

Hi Everyone! Sorry I'm so late. Thanks for having me. D- Thanks for a great interview!! It was so much fun!

I'm so glad you all enjoyed Along for the Ride. I've finished the next book, Recipe for Disaster, and am working on book 4, Degrees of Passion (i think that's what we're calling it anyway, lol)

Michelle Pillow

Michelle M Pillow said...

Blackroze- Thank you!

Dayle, great meeting you and all the V authors at RWA!

Hi Portia. I'm reading your books right now. :D

Olivia & Janine- I'm with you, the bigger the better, bring on the words. I hate word count restrictions and length requirements because I like the story to tell itself in the length that's best for the book, but I understand that publishers have to have guidelines. :)

I tend to write a lot of brother series and sister were a nice change.

Deanna - YOU RAWK!!! :D

Jeremy- THANKS!!

I'm so keeping, Anne. *slapping "Michelle" sticker on her head"

Christy & Alison - Thanks for checking it out! :)

Michelle M Pillow said...

Maybe Along for the ride will teach me how to manage siblings in an erotic context.

Since I write for CHEEK not BL, my stuff is much lighter in erotic content. I can see how siblings would get in the way when doing erotica, because the focus of the books shifts. Very interesting comments! Gives me lots to think about! Thanks everyone!

Michelle M Pillow said...

Madeline says..."I freely admit that it's what is going on inside my characters that really interests me."

That's awesome. I think it makes for great characters if the author is attached :)

Michelle M Pillow said...

Mathilde -- HI! :)

Madelynne - thank you. Yeah, I think being out of the house is definately a plus with sisters. No more stealing clothes. though, if you're the thief, I guess that could suck, lol.

Kate, lol, with five I can understand how you might want a break in your books. but I bet you have great stories you could incorporate from your life with such a big family :)

Laura- RFD comes out next spring. And thanks for coming to the chats. Mandy and I have a lot of fun, we're always goofing off.

ally- thanks :D

crystal & tetewa - thanks for checking out the interview!

Michelle M Pillow said...